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Service and Community

‘A Day of Light’ Honors Slain Students

Three slain students are remembered at the Free Expression Tunnel. Photo by Marc Hall.

The pain has not subsided. And peace is still an unfulfilled dream.

For the families of the two NC State alumni and one student who died violently last year in a Chapel Hill shooting, however, the path forward has become a little clearer, if not easier to travel.

If anything, the overwhelming worldwide attention and support given to the two Raleigh families has helped with what healing has been done over the last year.

“We cannot say that all we have been through has been worth it,” said NC State alumnus Farris Barakat, brother of one of the victims. “But what is the best, going forward, for them?

“If is true that life is a test, then they succeeded in that test. They were here to make earth a better place. They did that while they were here, and they are still doing that now that they are gone. But they left big shoes to fill.”

Vigil Marks Anniversary

Next week brings the anniversary of the Feb. 10, 2015 shooting that claimed the lives of newlywed NC State graduates Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha, who were both at UNC’s School of Dentistry in Chapel Hill, and Razan Abu-Salha, an NC State design student, who happened to be visiting her sister that afternoon.

It’s a difficult time for the family, which still faces the first-degree murder trial of alleged shooter Craig Hicks, the neighbor suspected in the homicides at a Chapel Hill apartment complex.

NC State and North Carolina will remember the trio, now called Our Three Winners, next Wednesday night at A Day of Light, an hour-long candlelight vigil and call to prayer at which the families will join NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson, UNC Chancellor Carol Folt and students from both campuses.

The event, designed to show unity and caring for the families, is slated to begin at 6 p.m. on the Stafford Commons in front of NC State’s Talley Student Union. In case of inclement weather, the memorial event will be moved inside. Earlier in the day, UNC will have a similar event at the Koury Oral Health Sciences Building at 1:15 p.m. that will include a campus-wide moment of silence.

Thursday, NC State’s Stewart Theatre will host a performance of the mixed-media memorial called “Shattered Glass” by NC State alumnus Mohammad Moussa.

Remarkable Legacy

While the tragedy is still raw in the eyes of both university communities, the families hope to celebrate the legacies of service and education the three students left behind.

Both schools have set up memorial scholarships and support the families efforts to call attention to the work the three students did for those in need, including a local Interfaith Habitat for Humanity construction project, a dental clinic for Syrian refugees in Turkey and a wide array of other service activities.

At NC State, six students received Our Three Winners scholarships from a fund initiated by Woodson shortly after the shooting.

“It has reminded me to celebrate life and to maintain a strong purpose, the way that Deah, Yusor and Razan did,” said Sarah Grant, one of the inaugural scholarship winners. “While I did not know them personally, their remarkable impact resonated throughout the NC State community and taught me how strong a group of people can be when faced with adversity.”

Farris Barakat has transformed his brother’s rental home in downtown Raleigh into The Light House, a center that includes space for study, prayer and collaboration on social entrepreneurship.

Promoting Tolerance

Over the last year, the three have been memorialized worldwide. On Wednesday, Deah’s eldest sister Suzanne Barakat, a San Francisco physician, participated in a roundtable discussion with President Barack Obama at the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque, at which the president mentioned the shooting and called for all Americans to stand against religious bigotry.

Since the shooting, Suzanne Barakat has been outspoken against instances of Islamophobia and called for greater understanding between religious communities, a message that will be shared whenever the three students are remembered.

“These were three all-American kids who were taken from us,” she said Wednesday evening. “They were model examples of American citizens who were doing good things for other people. Their all-American-ness did not save them.

“Preventing incidents like this is something we have to work on every day. Cultures are very hard to change.”

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  1. When I remind myself of This tragedy, I cannot understand your strength. This i not a place I want to call Home anymore. These kids were so vibrant and productive and it is this country that stole them from you by the filthy and continuous ignorance of 2/3 of it’s people.

    1. Gabriella –
      There is ignorance everywhere in the world. The tragedy that denied the world the full gifts of these 3 young people was inflicted by one person. That person in no way reflects the values, attitudes and opinions of the overwhelming majority of the citizens of this great nation who are disgusted by any such act that may be driven by bigotry and hatred. We share your grief at the senseless loss of decent people with great potential.
      Let’s try to use this as motivation for bettering ourselves in how we show tolerance and compassion to others. We can be an example to those that fear people they don’t know and haven’t taken the time to understand.
      I wish you, and everyone that was touched by this tragic event, peace.

  2. Stunned cannot express the response I felt throughout to learn of the tragic and senseless loss of a fine couple and sisters. However we do live on to serve in memory Razan, Yusor, and Deah, let’s do so by our compassion and humility in our even knowing what is light.

  3. I did not know Deah, Yusor, and Razan. Even though over 50 years separates our NCSU graduation, I was indelibly touched by their lives through the stories of others. Their deaths diminish us all and yet can serve to raise our consciousness and tighten the bonds of humanity between us. By supporting Our Three Winners I hope their legacy will live a very long time.

  4. Our Three Winners have been memorialized worldwide and we will never forget Deah, Yusor, and Razan at all. Their legacy extended to our hearts and to our Wolfpack family.

  5. They were literally Die Hard Wolf Pack and we’re proud that they have made Wolf Pack our family in the great country we call HOME.